Gardening Editor Ruth Hayes is self-isolating - but very thankful to have the garden to escape to in these most strange of times

Going potty after a week’s confinement!

Thank goodness the weather was good at the weekend, otherwise I may have gone a wee bit stir crazy.

Latest: Coronavirus Gardening Blog

We were blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine here in Dorset, though a keen easterly wind took the edge of its warmth. However, in sheltered patches of sunlight it was blissfully relaxing.

One good thing about self-isolation is that if you have nowhere to be, you have more time to get on with things (housework excepted, obviously…)

Pot resurrection
A job that has been nagging at me every time I go into the garden is the resurrection of a large, down-at-heel pot.

This pot had clearly seen better days and can now be reused this summer.

This pot had clearly seen better days and can now be reused this summer.

It is a stunning dark-blue and yellow banded pot and was obviously a thing of great beauty when planted up several years ago, but now its ornamental grasses and Hypericum (rose of Sharon) are looking decidedly unloved and lacklustre.

Foxgloves and dandelions had self-seeded around the edge and whatever else was included in the planting plan has long since died.

Plants in distress
Several of the causes of the plants’ distress became immediately apparent when I lifted the entre rootball from the pot and deposited it in the wheelbarrow.

For starters, it still wrapped in the insulating bubblewrap I used at planting, obviously looking ahead to some hard winter weather.

Vine weevils
Everything was severely rootbound and when I dug into the compost I found a few vine weevils lurking.

Vine weevils are a menace to container plants.

Vine weevils are a menace to container plants.

These greedy little blighters (my language at the time was slightly saltier) do lethal damage to potted plants by eating their roots, so some I popped very satisfactorily under my boots and the rest went onto the bird table.

Cutting the plants apart
I then cut the plants apart with a sharp, clean knife, making sure they all had a healthy topgrowth and roots attached, washed the roots thoroughly to remove any remaining nasties and replanted them in areas of the garden where they will hopefully thrive.

Cutting through the matted cluster of roots.

Cutting through the matted cluster of roots.

Not only was it a satisfying job to complete, but it came with the added bonus of being out in the sunshine, the garden alive with birdsong (a wren hurled some very choice insults my way when I ventured too close to its nest) and a fluttering of butterflies (a brimstone and several peacocks and tortoiseshells) skipping over the borders.

Washing the Hypericum roots before planting.

Washing the Hypericum roots before planting.

There were lots of big fat bumblebees too, as well as bee flies that look and fly like small bumblebees but have a long protruding proboscis they use for drinking nectar.

I also saw more hedgehog poo than I could shake a stick at, which is heartening to see, especially as the little pellets are increasing in number day by day.
After such a long, wet and dreary winter it does the spirit good to see spring returning in all her glory.

Latest: Coronavirus Gardening Blog

News in brief

  • If you are worried about stocking up on garden essentials while you are self-isolating don’t panic, many of the major online suppliers are still operating.
    Mr Fothergill’s (0333 777 3936, mr-fothergills.co.uk) says its stocks are still healthy but that it’s worth checking their website or calling to check.
    The company is seeing a huge rise in demand, so deliveries may be a bit slower than normal.
    We will pass on news from other leading brands as and when we hear it.
  • The RHS has cancelled this year’s Britain in Bloom competition because of COVID-19.
    A spokesman for the charity said: “This is a worldwide and unprecedented challenging time for so many people and of course the health and safety of communities, volunteers and judges remains our number one priority.
    “With the Government advising everyone to follow social distancing measures, it is sadly not currently possible for finalists to carry out their usual community gardening activities.”
    Any Britain in Bloom groups should contact the RHS via communities@rhs.org.uk for further details.

 

If there’s something you would like me to talk about, just ask. And don’t forget to let us know what you are doing and how you are coping; send us your thoughts and pictures and we will put them online and in the magazine.

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Stay safe everyone out there and come back to the blog for more advice over the coming days and weeks.